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In Illustrator CS5 Essential Training, author Mordy Golding explains the core concepts and techniques that apply to any workflow in Illustrator, whether designing for print, the web, or assets for other applications. This course includes a detailed explanation of the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of the Illustrator drawing tools. Also demonstrated are techniques for combining and cleaning up paths, organizing paths into groups and layers, text editing, working with color, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
One of the best ways to become more efficient in using Illustrator is using something called Symbols. Now I am going to expand my dock over here, so that we can see the Symbols panel, which appears right here. Many people, unfortunately, think that the Symbols panel is just something where you store clipart. However, that's far from the truth. A Symbol is a very efficient way of building repeating artwork inside of Illustrator. When you define artwork as a symbol, and as we'll see, you could take any artwork at all inside of Illustrator with the lone exception of a linked image, and you can define that artwork as a symbol.
Once you do so, Illustrator stores that artwork inside of the Symbols panel, and you can then reuse that artwork as many times as you want throughout your file, but they don't add to your file size. They all reference that original piece of artwork that's inside of the Symbols panel. The real benefit, however, of working in this way, is that if you need to update that artwork at any time, you can make that update to the original art inside the Symbols panel and wherever that art is used throughout the rest of your document, it updates automatically.
So let's take a look at how we create symbols inside of Illustrator and how we can start to use them inside of our layouts. Now in this document, I have four different pieces of art at the top of the document here. They're all different types of flowers, and I want to use these as some kind of design elements as I start designing these gift cards. So I am going to start by just selecting this flower right here, and I am going to go to the Symbols panel. I am going to click on this button over here to create a brand-new symbol. I am going to give it a name. Let's called this one Poppy, and we'll click OK.
Now you can see at that symbol appears inside of the Symbols panel. In addition, Illustrator now took the piece of art that was on the artboard before and converted it to something called an Instance. Now the symbol itself is the artwork that sits inside of the Symbols panel, but each time that I have a piece of that art reference on the artboard, we refer to that as a Symbol Instance. This object right here is no longer the regular piece of art. It's a reference to my original artwork or what sometimes people call an FPO, or For Position Only.
Let me show you now another way to create a symbol inside of Illustrator. I am going to select this flower right here, and I am simply going to drag it right into the Symbols panel. Notice now the Symbol Options dialog box appears, I am going to call this one Lilly, and I am going to click OK to define that as a symbol. Now I have two more symbols to create. I am going to select this one right here, and I am going to use the keyboard shortcut for defining a symbol, which is F8 or Function 8 on your keyboard. I am going to call this one Daisy. Finally, I am going to select this piece of artwork, and I'll press F8 again and call this one Sunflower, great! So now I have defined all of these symbols, and I now have Instances out on the artboard.
By the way, if I want to add additional Instances, I can either drag out the symbols directly onto the artboard, or I can copy them using the Selection tool as I've done with other objects, by just Option+Dragging them to define a copy. Now that I have created these symbols, I can very easily position them and put them where I want inside of my design. A Symbol Instance can also be resized. Notice that I have a Bounding Box around it. I can hold down the Shift key and resize these Symbol Instances, maybe I'll add a Lilly down here as well, make it just a drop smaller, kind of right here, and then maybe we'll add a little Daisy here as well, make that one just a drop smaller.
So you can see that you can easily position the artwork as you need throughout your design. I am going to add a few more sunflowers to this design, make it a drop bigger here, then make a little small sunflower, lovely design. Maybe I'll put some of the lilies over here on this piece of artwork, just Option+Drag a few of them. Now I also have the ability to rotate these as well. I am going to switch to my Rotate tool and just simply click and drag, Command+Click to reselect some of these and change the Rotation values.
Finally, on this one, I'll add a few of these flowers, just like that. I don't need these here, so I am just going to delete these from my file. Now I've been able to very easily create artwork using multiple Instances of these symbols. The real benefit of using Symbols, however, is how easy it is to modify or change this artwork if I need to. We are going to cover that in the next movie.
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